So, You Got Fired (Or Think You Might Be Soon)
What’s important to remember is that you can be great at your job and still lose it. The economy, changes in the industry, mergers and acquisitions — all of these can affect your job.
Even if you were fired because of something you did (or didn’t do), this moment doesn’t have to define your career.
If you lose your job unexpectedly (with little or no warning), it can be particularly difficult to move forward quickly with a new job search. You may still be mourning the loss of your old job.
It’s a cliché, but the old adage of a window opening when a door closes applies here. If you are completely honest with yourself, can you think of one or more positive things that may result from this? Are there things you want to do in your next job that weren’t available to you in your previous position? Is there something you’ve always wanted to pursue, but didn’t because you were comfortable in your old job?
Without a job to go to every day, your days may seem endless. It can be tempting to start working on some of those projects (either personal, or things around the house) that you’ve put off because you’ve been so busy with work. Don’t. You need to get started on your job search right away.
Even if you think you’re not ready to go back to work again, there are many things you can do in the early stages of the job search to move yourself forward before you are ready to actually start applying for jobs. These may include:
- Updating your LinkedIn profile
- Applying for unemployment benefits
- Working with your resume writer to update your resume and cover letter
- Conducting informational interviews with people in your field to identify opportunities
Putting your resume together can also provide a boost to your self-esteem as you work to gather your accomplishments.
One of the most important questions you can prepare for is, “Why did you leave your last job?” Your answer to this question can mean the difference between being offered your next job, or not. Don’t be defensive in your answer. Don’t badmouth your previous employer. Both of these are huge turnoffs for an interviewer. It can be difficult not to carry the hurt and disappointment of being fired into your search for a new job, but negativity won’t get you far.
And make sure the reason you give for leaving agrees with what your previous employer will say in a reference check. (If you didn’t clarify this during the termination meeting, now is the time to follow up with your previous supervisor or the company’s human resources department and find out.)
The “Upside” of Being Fired
While it may be difficult to find the silver lining in being fired, there can be some positives. One of the best things about searching for a new job while you’re unemployed is you can be open about your search. You don’t have to worry about your current employer finding out that you’re looking for a new job — which is one of the biggest risks of job searching while you’re working.
You may also find that you receive more assistance, advice, and guidance from others in your job search if you were laid off than if you were conducting a job search while you are employed.
Being let go might also be the push that you needed to make a change. It’s easy to become complacent in your career. When reflecting on this time in their life at a point in the future, many jobseekers say they wish they hadn’t had to go through it, but they ended up in a better job as a result. That may be difficult to see now, but keep that in mind as you move forward. This might be the motivation you needed to make significant changes in your life that were easy to put off when you had a job.
Tips for Success
Enlist the help of others. Form a support group of like-minded people who are ready to tackle the next opportunity. Share leads, contacts, and advice with each other. Celebrate your successes when job offers are received.
Get help and support. The older you are, the more fearful you may be. It can be beneficial to seek counseling or career coaching to help you during this time. Don’t be afraid to consult specialists to help you navigate the process — for example, an employment attorney if you feel you’re not being treated fairly by your previous employer.
Stay positive. This is probably the most difficult thing to do after being fired, but it’s also the most important factor affecting your future success. It’s normal to feel sad, depressed, angry, or hurt when you’ve lost your job. Acknowledge your loss, but move forward one step at a time. Be sure to take care of yourself — eat right, exercise, don’t hole up at home.
Take advantage of the programs and services available to you, and position yourself to be successful in your next job.
Kathy Keshemberg is a Nationally Certified Resume Writer and Certified Career Management Coach. Since 1983, she has created thousands of interview-winning resumes and related job-search materials for satisfied clients around the world. Need assistance with your career? We’re here to help! www.acareeradvantage.com